Concepts of Marketing Research

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examine thePACKAGING and labeling of Match Boxes for the use of consumers

Why Consider Match Boxes?

Match boxes have been into the market for over a long decade since 1827 and presently it is know to have a sliding paper push drawer inside the box since 1840's. Since its discovery match boxes have been found to prefer consumer products all over the globe, and also by the nature of packaging of every individual boxes have lead manufacturing companies to apply special design and trendy graphics on it. But in actual, research into match box industry have found little area of research but there is ample opportunities of research into this vast and growing industry (author name). Match box collection and other items has been identified as an hobby of many individuals but research measures that no initiative has been taken to measure the factors that influence the packaging of match boxes.

This paper specifically addresses to omit this gap.

The basic function of match boxes had lead to several developments but little initiative has been taken to develop the product upon. But practically the design of match boxes has more or less remained unchanged until its development for the last 150 years which makes it the unique underdeveloped product amongst consumer's usage (author).   

Concepts of Marketing Research:

In defining the nature and characteristics of Marketing Research, McQuarrie (2006) have argued that market research is market oriented activity whereas marketing is a philosophy that states the procedures in achieving success in a particular business. In a philosophical manner marketing mains focus lies on markets and customers in helping them to take specific business related decisions. Looking from this particular view marketing research contains all the matters that any organization needs to understand any particular market and gain market share. Several practitioners regard market research as a particular “business philosophy” with its sole focus on “learning”, change in organization might be required to improve its performance in the market in collaboration too market research (McQuarrie,2006).

However at times it has been identified that marketers often need some information about their competitors and the instances that's going on in the market. For example Carlsberg wants to intervene and gather information about the European Cup Advertising or elsewhere Philips wants to know about the customers looking to buy HDTV (High Definition Television) the newly launched next generation television (Kotler, Armstrong, Wong and Saunders, 2008). Marketing research has been identified as a systematic approach in animating, collecting the required information, and data reporting as per requirement from the particular marketing approach that an organization needs. Companies use market research in various situations like research into market helps understand the requirement of customers and their purchasing behavior towards products. It also allows them to assess the whole range of potential market and to ensure the effectiveness of the 4 P's of marketing i.e. product, price, place and promotion. Companies like P&G, Kraft and Nestle have their own research departments that handle the market research activity. However these companies at times hire outdoor research specialists in consultation with the management of the company to identify specific market oriented problems and also to carry out market research activities.

Research Methodology:

Research is a common methodology used to look for knowledge. Research activity is conducted to gather information on a specific subject area. So basically research is the “art of scientific investigation” (Kothari, 2008). Redman and Mory (1923) defined research as “systematized effort towards gathering new knowledge”. The main objective of research is to find answers to provided questions using several practical and scientific theories.  Research activity is used to find some hidden truth which has not been explored yet. So the question that rises is why companies or organizations undertake research activity? There might be several motives for conducting research activity As Kothari (2008) described the possible motives which are:

  • To achieve a degree in the research field.
  • To find the unexplored area which has not been explored yet
  • Enjoy of conducting some for of creative work
  • Providing help to the people and the society at large
  • Expectation to get respected

In present day research activity is used in every field to find something new. Research has been identified as a mode of thinking and looking critically into regular work in professional field through testing and formulating theories towards enhancement of practice (Kumar, 2005). This would however include collecting data and techniques applied for the implementation in analyzing and comparison of data from the techniques used in collecting data.

Research Philosophy:

There are two “dominant views” with respect to research that helps in the process of methodology used in conducting marketing research (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2002). A research philosophy is a mode of identifying the positive principles with the researcher would like claiming principles oriented with law which is identical to the ones produced through researchers oriented with study of social and natural objects. Though philosophy acts as a support mechanism of marketing research. On the other hand implementation of proper phenomenon that argues the general results which is not that of importance for business organizations in which situation can be both full of “complexity” and are “unique” (Saunders, 2002). So it's the responsibility of the market researcher to identify the ideal design approach to be used in research which should match with the topic that needs to be researched. Dewhurst (2002) argued that qualitative research provides guidelines in an expanded format when forming small focus groups. Whereas using quantitative research identifies the number of items consumers would prefer to buy, amount measuring with the products that are advertised through several means. Precisely Shank (2005) described that research design generated through using particular research philosophy are however found to be “exploratory”, “descriptive “or “casual” by form depending on the problem specification.        

Research Strategy

Strategy formulation involves defining a specific goal or plan to establish and achieve a goal (McQuarrie, 2006). Strategies may take the shape of both goal and plan considered individually. Aaker (2004) provided a vital statistics on the various kinds of strategies accompanied by integration and “differentiating” from other business practice that are presently used. With this argument it can said that both market research and strategy in business possess opposite relationship. Research has revealed that strategy formulation forms the initial stage before market research is conducted. This strategy make up list contains questions that needs answer in the research process, what is the motive for conducting particular research topic, source from which data is collected, time deviation, place and the total cost that would be incurred. Research process has provided the study approach to point out these issues that are oriented with the packaging mode of match boxes. This technique would support the respondents to formulate high level knowledge in the research and the processes to be used (Morris and Wood, 1991). 

Research Method:

Market Research can be classified into four sub classes that include defining the problem and research objectives, developing the research plan, implementation of the research plan and interpreting and report the findings (Kotler, Armstrong, Wong and Saunders, 2008).

  • Defining the problem and research objectives- In defining the problem both marketing managers and researchers need to work collaborate to explain the research outcomes. This identification is best done by the manager who has a broader view of the information requirement and marketing researchers is best in understanding the procedures and the steps to gather information. The most difficult step in research process is problem and research objective identification. After defining the problem the manager and the researcher needs to set the objective for which the research is being carried out. A marketing research consists of three types of objectives (Kotler, Armstrong, Wong and Saunders, 2008).The first one is exploratory research that is oriented with information gathering in the basic stage and that would help in problem definition and also provide hypotheses. The next is the descriptive research which helps to describe things like market potentiality for a particular product and also consumer attitudes towards that product. The last is the casual research that helps to test the cause and effect relationship. For instance recent research was carried out among the Universities in UK that was encapsulated with the idea of increase in tuition fees that would see the demand for students in pursuing higher education (Kotler, Armstrong, Wong and Saunders, 2008).
  • Developing the research plan- Researchers must identify and develop a proper research plan once the problem is defined and its objectives. The research plan should contain the source of data collection, methodologies adopted for data collection, methods adopted for getting touch, sampling and tools to be used by researchers in gathering the data. The research objectives must be converted into information requirement. This research plan must be in the form of “written proposal” (Kotler, Armstrong, Wong and Saunders, 2008). A written proposal is specifically given importance when the project that needs to be researched is huge and complexes or when the research work is carried out by some outside organizations. The proposal should include all the issues of the problems oriented with the management and also the research outcomes.

Data Collection Method

Data can be collected in two different ways; a) Primary b) Secondary means.

  • Quantitative primary data:

Primary data are collected based on research from secondary data when at times it fails to meet the desired research objectives.

Survey Research:

In conducting survey based research which includes personal interviews, telephonic interview and mail questionnaires. Both have some positive and negative effects and the individual research objective depends based on the requirement of specific survey attitudes. Kinnear and Taylor (1996) argued that some of the factors that needs to be considered moving to select the best one: approximate project cost, type of problem that needs to be researched, the time factor, sampling of data, the amount of data that needs to be collected and lastly the quality of data that needs to be collected. Research outcomes reveal that any author has not revealed any particular research proposal in any particular type of subject. But survey methods can be useful mechanism for data collection: current and future behavior, opinions and desirability and knowledge over the subject (Baker, 2003).

Personal Interviews:

In marketing research personal interview has been identified as the most preferred mode of research due to least sampling size and also the interviewer can review or ask several sorts of questions. But there are negative effects which have been found which includes cost incurred, time constraints, and require proper planning and at times moves towards “biases” (Havaldar, 2005).

Telephonic Interview:

This type of interview is applied when the research requires speedy outcomes from large database, beyond the geographical boundary which would prove to be costly if contacted directly and when the questionnaire that needs to be asked is too short or direct face to face interview is not required (Wrenn, Stevens and Loudon, 2007).

Mail Surveys:

Mail surveys is the most form of contact method when it comes to “mail panel research” (Wrenn, Stevens and Loudon, 2007). In one time research project a particular group of respondents are identified which would be of importance and a set of questionnaire is sent to them. The mail may be preceded by subsequent telephone call so as to encourage the respondents to participate or answer to the questionnaires. This is the most convenient method to reduce time and also reduces the chances of non response respondents.

In industry when surveying a particular individual, usually lockbox approach is used so that there are less chances for the individual's secretary or assistant to answer to the survey (Wrenn, Stevens and Loudon, 2007). The letter might be accompanied by surprise gift that lets the individual at work to complete the survey and return it through mail.

2. Gathering Secondary data

- Secondary data consists of data which have been used earlier or being published is always needs to consult before starting of with primary data collection. Newsom-Smith (1988) has argued that secondary data can be a source of primary research. Whatever so there is no meaning in repeating the tasks or research activity which has been done previously, why not the present research objectives that are designed specifically so as to meet the current research objectives? But even if it fails to produce the desired results it may provide support in explaining key points that any corresponding primary research activity. It could be a source of determination of sampling method used in data collection. Secondly it could act as an alternative to field research. Research aspects reveals that primary research has been found to be more expensive and secondary research on other hand have proved to cut expenditures in which all the research objectives are achieved accurately (Baker, 2003). However Baker (1991) argued that research can only be carried out through the use of secondary mode of data collection. But before commencing with secondary mode of research specific questions needs to be answered:

  • Are the data collected for taking into secondary research similar?
  • What is the total cost incurred in acquiring the data?
  • How flexible is the data available?
  • What is the level of accuracy of the data collected?
  • To what extent the data collected is relevant in meeting the present research objectives?

Kumar et al. (1999) described that internet is the most vital aspect in secondary data collection with unlimited scope of research and also incur lost expenditure in research activity. But Walters (2001) notes that marketing research could be based on international line when languages used in literatures other than English is properly evaluated.   

Sampling Technique and Sample Size:

Selecting the appropriate sampling technique and sample size is a vital aspect of any research process from other non probabilistic sampling methods. There are several sampling methods amongst them includes quota sampling which unlike probability sampling represents total population size (Saunders, Thornhill and Lewis, 2002).

The sampling process would be classified into three dimensions in the qualitative research process that includes general stores, retail and whole sale with six semi structured interviews which is conducted for each part. In quantitative research process a total ten interviews is done to get the desired results from the population so as to research the consumer preference when buying match boxes.

Problems faced in research process:

With little research being conducted on match box packaging and labeling activity in the shape of books, literatures and articles, research  was mainly carried out through structured interviews in various form of general stores, retail and whole sale market segments. Few research have looked into this aspect of packaging sensitivity which is an important area of research if researched deeply. However this research paper tries to minimize this gap through updated research in buying behavior of consumers when buying match boxes. This market research was carried out through survey and questionnaire to both forms of employees of the company and consumer survey.  

Present Match Box Package Design

The traditional match box packaging or label design remains the same in the present day until the brands were first created. However marketing methodology implication has changed form previous where attractive packaging tools are used. Some brand new match boxes have been deployed into the market keeping intact the traditional label of boxes featuring attractive designs. From the traditional to the modern packaging system significant developments have been found in change of packaging system to meet the consumer's preference and to achieve modernity.

In present day the bulk producers of match boxes has been identified in Asia particularly India and China (Jones, 2004). But in terms of global producer with respect to manufacturing outputs and quality perceived is Swedish Match AB in Stockholm, Sweden with its manufacturing units based in Europe, South America and Asia.

The type of match box designed by this company is mostly oriented with traditional approach and style segments which have existed in the market from the very beginning. Most of its brands has not been modified from the traditional brands like ‘Three Stars' and ‘Swallow'  while other brands have been on the road of up gradation like  ‘Cook's Matches' and ‘Union Match'. The change of approach of packaging system from traditional to modern approach has mainly due to the modernization of European Brands that has supported with the growing technological advancement in printing which has provided the consumers with the appeal that is necessitated towards the brand, an important trend that has been identified in the industry.

The successful project creation by the Swedish Match Box industry named ‘Nirvana' in the late 90's was an important achievement of this industry (Jones, 2004). Its goals were mainly based on value creation of premium range of products that differentiated from its competitors in the European market through functional and aesthetic range. Research has identified that every traditional brand name hasn't moved towards modification, the company aimed to project identical name of the brand and features through special ‘images of warmth and cosines with proper safety features and reliability' (Jones, 2004). The modern day trend have shifted towards boxes that have images on it generally containing features of birds or animals which have resulted in removing cultural oriented behavior from export to other parts of the country. But specific ill effects has been identified when using this kind of symbols like its picture cannot be used in as a trademark and so it does not provide any proven message to the consumers when they ought to buy that product (Jones, 2004). Specific instances like the concept of differentiation used by American manufacturing companies to that of Euro zone. This has been due to the concept of using Book Matches over other box of matches which has attributed to the discovery of book matches which took place in Philadelphia in the late 80's by Joshua Pusey (BBC, 2002).

Over years packaging has been found as a strong marketing communication tool. Several measures like attractive advertising mode like “least expensive form of advertising”, the “five second commercial”, and the “silent salesman”, which should always be remembered that packaging acts as a protective mechanism that projects attractive offers to the consumers that serves as effective marketing communication tool (Egan, 2007). Attractive packaging should therefore ensure:

  • Be Attractive ensuring ideal labels on products
  • Provide proper instructions and also be informative
  • Be persuasive so that consumers are moved towards the product
  • Signify the importance of the brand

In terms of pricing packaging is the most preferred alternative choice among consumers that can be changed through providing short information. It serves the ‘brand loyalists' identify the right product and more specifically attempts to provide the preferred choice of brand (Keller, 1998). But more potentially good writing style does not often contribute towards right packaging technique like for instance CifLemon, Bovril and Heinz Ketchup have attempted towards ensuring the right effect (Egan, 2007). The product size and the mode of presentation is another interesting feature. Often it is identified that huge packs help communicate better understanding but this statement is not true all the time. When looking at Coca Cola for instance, specially in the consumer market of UK, three main packages has gained significant attention which include 'can', ‘the traditional bottle' and the ‘family size bottle' (Egan, 2007).  

In Asian markets especially in India ITC's match box business has been identified as the most successful after the acquisition of Wimco through wholly owned subsidiary Russell Credit Ltd. (Padmanabhan, 2006). Research study reveals that ITC Match Box Business is looking for fresh consolidation by outsourcing products from its units. In the recent study ITC has scaled its volumes nearest to 230 million match boxes per month through expansion of its FMCG sector, by manufacturing ‘Choupal Sagars' for its rural India business which presently includes ‘iodized salt' and ‘agarbattis' (Padmanabhan, 2006). Safety brands of ITC like ‘Aim', ‘I Kno', ‘Vaxlit' and ‘Delite' has been the most preferred brands of consumers.  Asia which accounts for largest consumption of match boxes in the globe- with India being identified as the foremost whereabouts for production and usage of safety match boxes. But study undertaken reveals that among all the Indian industries that manufactures match boxes 18% uses advanced mechanized technology for manufacturing while the rest still today uses hand as a mode of manufacturing, with the cottage industry involved in making 15% of the total match boxes production and the small scale industry producing the rest 67% (Tandon, 2004). Extensive market research has revealed that the change of design and branding of matchboxes has been slow over years in the consumer pattern of usage. In undertaking consumer research in the European and overseas market study reveals that old tradition of match boxes brands is the most preferred consumer usage since it ensures “quality”, “strength” and “reliability” and that's  the only reason that over years there has been least change in the packaging system of match boxes (Herman, 2001). In the UK market usage of ‘Swan Vestas' is the brand which has seen least decline in the consumption behavior among its consumers. This story has provided ‘Swan Vestas' the most successful brands in the UK market. ‘Swan Vestas' mode of packaging has not changed from its traditional cover which makes it easily identifiable due to its application of attractive colors and hard layout on it. In present day some changes has taken place in its packaging system over other brands in the market dimension. The drastic change that took place in the packaging system of Swan match boxes was in the late 90's when its cover became more attractive when the face of the swan was turned towards the right direction. This concept of packaging and design remained unchanged over some decades with some minute changes in the weight of ‘The Smoker's Match'.

Later in the coming years the next re-packaging model was adopted by the company named ‘Flydot' who phrased out the least attractive and realistic package of swan in white found swimming in water. But gradually the entire packaging system went for radical change with change in writing on the match box to inject a fresh new brand among the consumers in the marketplace. But this venture however failed to succeed and as such the company had no option but to move back to its traditional form of packaging system. This revert backing of the packaging system by the company not a whole lot of appreciation from the consumers and it exist still today in the market.

This example reveals that all new mechanisms adopted to change the packaging system of match boxes has significantly failed to succeed in the present market with consumers preferring to stick to traditional mode of packaging when buying safety match boxes.

Certain major brands in the market have been found to change their packaging system or labels. These brands during research were identified as some new companies who have introduced their new brands in the market. But these companies have shown some disadvantages when acquiring the market share. Firstly these companies lack experience in terms of manufacturing of match boxes compared to the traditional manufactures who have already established their name as a brand in the market. This lacking of brand image have  significantly failed to grab consumers in terms of quality and so research has identified that it is the packaging, and establishing its brand image that sells the product at the end of the day. In order to move towards modification its how the packaging is done keeping the perspective the issues like cultural aspect and adopting the design mechanism that helps grab consumer's attention.

“Redhead's” (Redhead's, 2004), one of the most brand in Australia is a specific instance that has changed its packaging system in every point of time throughout all its journey starting from its establishment. Its quality and features have been changed but it's the label and packaging which undergoes frequent change throughout all its life and this change is considerably accepted by the consumers in Australia as a fact of brand loyalty. In comparison to ‘Swan Vestas' where one particular change in the product have failed to attract consumers and overall it was not accepted product in the market. 

Bryant and May was the first of its kind involved in the production of Redheads brand match box in Australia. The brand name can be easily depicted through the “color of the striking head on the match” and from outside it can be easily pointed out through “illustration of woman with vivid red hair” (Jones, 2004). 

In taking up the trend of changing style statements Redheads saw major changes with the launch of its latest range keeping the perception of consumers and making in fashionable. The images of hair style of woman used on the match box saw changes with hair style taking new shape and also the shape of its face was modified. This sudden modification on the packaging system of the match box improved its appeal amongst the consumers. Research conducted few years back suggests that after Swedish Match Box acquisition of Bryant and May, its match box package achieved new style with latest range. The introduction of border design was considered as a moving back and taking the traditional approach employed by the Swedish Match Box.

This application of special Redhead labels on brand labels projected a good image among the consumers that made the brand friendlier and interesting aspect to use.  In keeping pace with the present package mechanism that includes its labeling and image application has attracted the consumers in buying that product and hence the match box business.

Government measures of promoting this industry:

Quantitative research has identified that trendy and attractive packaging system is used to make any store look attractive. In Asian Markets like India the government has taken several measures to develop the match industry in the domestic and international market. “Protective tariffs”, “differential excise duties” and “sales tax exemption” are some vital measures provided by the government for the well being of the match industry (Tandon, 2004). As a result of the initiatives taken b the government the Indian match industry scaled to high levels. The production units increased its manufacturing units and since there was frequent expansion in the industry. In observational research study conducted study reveals that the safety match box which are manufactured in India are of wooden or cardboard boxes with each box having the capacity to hold around 50 splits. In addition to this other match boxes that include book matches have can hold 10-20 sticks and attractive package is developed with the consumer perception. Research study has revealed that in the last few years the supplied of wood has been considerably declining but the demand of matches is on the increasing side (Tandon, 2004). Manufacturing of boxes is mainly through using machines as well as through manual labor. Manual labor have the capability of manufacturing 40 to 50 gross boxes per day which is a little higher @0.10 paise [1 rupee=100 paise](Tandon, 2004).

The package methodology and the buying behavior of consumers when buying match boxes is considerably a difficult to calculate, but the trend shows that consumers would look to buy current match box products with most of the traditional brands haven't modified their packaging system. But things can be perceived that the manufacturing companies would look to modify their existing products through modifications in packaging and labeling, revision of cost of selling products would be the most dominant feature that companies would look to compete with other competitors in the market and gain the majority stake in market share. For the past few decades research has  identified that sell of match boxes has been gradually declining over years and presently the companies adopts strategies to get itself attached to this decline not to formulate strategies on selling its products in the market (11). Several factors have resulted in the decline of this industry such as the technological advancement in which usage of fire in terms of matchbox is becoming “obsolete”, usage of lighters is more convenient and it is also cheaper that ensures safety and durability (Jones, 2004). Companies looking forward to sustain in the market have diversified their business introducing their product variety in their existing product range. Consumers prefer buying their own perceived brand and companies have taken this initiative of producing products with their own brand names. For example ‘Swan Vestas' , one of the most selling brands in UK which have sold its product with the name ‘Smokers Match' has produced with their own brand that includes “cigarette lighter”, “flints”, “lighter fluids” and “pipe cleaners” (Jones, 2004). This makes the brand a high selling brand amongst the consumers and has been identified as a most strategic marketing tool through transforming from match to a brand. However in understanding the packaging mode of match box researchers are not that optimistic about the product in the coming days since the manufacturing companies have greatly reduced their numbers and some business organizations are closing down. It might be that the packaging system of matchboxes may be too traditional, whilst some brands would still exist along with other products and would be marketed keeping the same brand name intact.